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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Desperate for Recognition / Gambia?

May 24 2011
last edits June 3 2011

Desperation in Action
It seems the pathetic puppets of the Libyan rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) are craving recognition; that is, as the legitimate government of all Libya. They're still outnumbered on the ground, in Libya, by people who reject their insane rebellion. And they still lack the official nod from the mighty US and the UK, for somewhat murky reasons, but have had for some time now that honor from a triad of large-ish players - France, Italy, and Qatar, plus a few later additions.

Perhaps hoping to start a fad out of it, the TNC has been caught stretching the truth a little as to who else was willing to call NATO's ragtag, "outunmbered" foot soldiers "the government of Libya."
Radio Australia News, May 6
Several countries have denied claims they have recognised a rebel council as the valid government of Libya.

Rebels in Benghazi have claimed that Canada, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands have become the latest states to recognise the council, which was set up to rival the regime of Colonel Moammar Gadaffi.

However three of those governments - Spain, Canada and the Netherlands - have denied the rebels' claims.
Denmark had also denied it, in a perfect four-for-four fail. Reuters, May 5
Denmark denied on Thursday that it had officially recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) of rebels, but said it did recognize the organization as a relevant partner for dialogue.
That's not how it was supposed to work. They were supposed to be so inspired the rebels' proud proclamation to go ahead and confirm the allegation by recognizing the TNC. That it failed is a somewhat bad sign for them, and something they obviously should not have tried.

The Ones Not Joined: The Triad
those who do recognize the rebels as the legitimate arbiters of Libya's future are a telling lot with each their own unstated true motives. There are six total, last I heard, and we should start with the main and original three, France, Qatar, and Italy.

France was the visionary leader in proclaiming the future of Libya. Little surprise, given they hosted a defector from late 2010 who reportedly helped France link up with and assist coup plotters at home. This was apparently sewn into the planned February protests, which did instantly turn to a suprisingly effective military campaign to take over the whole country. After this happened, the French were the first to recognize the rebels, and loudest in promoting and carrying out high-tech air support for their advance to Tripoli. They were reportedly promised a third of all Libyan oil contracts around the same time they started this little club.

The Persian Gulf Island state of Qatar is an authoritarian capitalist Islamic petro-kingdom, not unlike Bahrain where the US has given a nod to a repression of protesters worse than anything Gaddafi's forces actually did. Qatar was, I believe, the second nation to join France's club and recognizing the rebels. Qatar is reportedly helping manage the first of Eastern Libya's oil exports, and they've hosted both a top-level meeting on Libya's future, and their top defector, Moussa Koussa. This reviled but apparently immune foreign minister and longtime regime villain is reportedly, from Qatar, helping NATO identify buildings to bomb in the hopes of killing Gaddafi. Er, taking out command and control.

Qatar has also helped all along with, at the very least, the Qatari-owned Arab news juggernaut al Jazeera. The network's coverage of this uprising has been notably irresponsible and alarmist, especially at first when it mattered most and helped fuel the chaos Qatar is now profiting from.

Italy was I think the third to join, but as I recall, had been the first in all the world to declare Gaddafi's government non-existent. This really cuts more to the chase, doesn't it? Thay have a history in Libya too deep for me to touch yet, a huge current dependence on their oil, and so on. They also, it's said, have a lot to lose, many outstanding arrangements, but these were cut off with the early decision to erase the old regime. It's only the later decision to directly support the rebels, with diplomatically and militarily, that has caused problems selling the idea at home under Berlusconi's shaky leadership. A more robust involvement in line with France and Qatar, or the US and UK for that matter, is thus unlikely to come from Italy.

The Other Three
As for who else has joined the original three, I've seen two versions, but I'm going with the latter.
France, Italy, Qatar and Ghana have already recognised the National Transitional Council, which is based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
China Daily, May 4
So far six countries -- France, Italy, Qatar, Maldives, Kuwait and The Gambia -- have officially recognized the rebels' "lawful status" in Libya.
Both Ghana and Gambia are in sub-Saharan, western Africa. Either would be an odd choice, odd enough to consider the one I find better supported, Gambia, seperately below. Maldives, a nation of tiny islands south of India - I have no insights on their reasons. Sorry.

Kuwait, however, is another Gulf state like Qatar and Bahrain. It has no appetite for its own protesters, but Gaddafi's they seem to be lapping at. They have probably the same interests in oil as Qatar, and likely some plans to promote their best ideas of Islam in Libya, or whatever.

And, as the originators of the war-enabling Iraqi army baby incubators story, Kuwait's royals have to be quite impressed with one aspect of this war. A legion of impersonators of that scripted PR episode has been flowing from the rebel side in an unprecedented info war (snipers shooting kids, mass rapes by Afro-mercs on viagra, targetting the faithful at the mosque on a Friday, chemical warfare plans, etc.)

Gambia Recognizes the Rebels?
But I see no obvious reason for sub-Saharan Africans to support the rebels, and a few decent reasons for them to specifically support Gaddafi. (At least ideologically, if not in practice). To join this small club usually takes some solid interest and a little bit of risk on the world stage.

Gaddafi's pan-African vision, and generous aid to help the continent develop and, eventualy, unify, are popular in countries like Ghana and Gambia. Both are cited (Ghana perhaps in error) as recognizing the rebels, who hate Gaddafi's pan-African vision, and represent some nasty racists who - at least briefly - hated black Africans enough to kill probably hundreds. And they captured many more, nearly universally for the crime of "African mercenary."(side-note: an okay article from Gambia on the "mercenaries" allegations)

Gambia, or The Gambia, a tiny nation that's mostly a river on the western apex of Africa, is not a natural addition to the club. What interest do they have in creating the new Libya? All I'm aware of in particular linking the two countries is a number of foreign workers in Libya captured by rebels. One with an interesting story hailed from Gambia before being arrested, and then shown to Western journalists, as a foreign Gaddafi-paid mercenary. LA Times, March 23 related his account after he suddenly spoke up out of turn:
"I am a worker, not a fighter. They took me from my house and [raped] my wife," he said, gesturing with his hands. Before he could say much more, a pair of guards told him to shut up and hustled him through the steel doors of a cell block, which quickly slammed behind them.

Several reporters protested and the man was eventually brought back out. He spoke in broken, heavily accented English and it was hard to hear and understand him amid the scrum of scribes pushing closer. He said his name was Alfusainey Kambi, and again professed innocence before being confronted by an opposition official, who produced two Gambian passports. One was old and tattered and the other new. And for some reason, the official said the documents were proof positive that Kambi was a Kadafi operative.
[O]ur interpreter, a Libyan national, asked [LA Times reported David] Zucchino: "So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and kill them?"
Even when the charges are clearly unsafe, there's a possible motive for the rebel captors in such cases to stubbornly insist their wards are in fact criminal mercenaries. Guilty until proven innocent has always been the standard against Gaddafi, and the rebels know this. Those familiar with the US justice system know similar attitudes all too easily stick to people of color, and deep-east Libya seems to have the same problem.

This allows them to hold people, who want to go home and have homes that want them. That could, to a shrewd and unethical mind, present an opportunity - bargain the return of these men "guilty, er, possibly guilty of very serious crimes, punishable by death in our laws," in exchange for, "oh, say ... diplomatic recognition?"

A Precedent? The Southern Tribes
Other captured Afro-mercs, 157 of them taken en masse in and near al-Baida, were seen by an official from Human Rights Watch in early March. He found they were partly southern, black-skinned Libyans of long-native tribes, and partly Libyan dual-nationals from elsewhere in Africa. None were foreign mercenaries as claimed by the rebels. All were reportedly released, but we can't really be sure that was done without any strings attached.

The recent tribal council of May, in Tripoli, was criticized mainly for not haing all the tribes represented there.  Richard Boudreaux, Wall Street Journal:
Absent were eastern tribes and western Berber tribes, which have been hostile to the Col. Gadhafi during his four decades of rule, and tribes from the south that have sought to remain neutral in the 11-week-old uprising.
Most information I see suggests these tribes would and usually do support Gaddafi. They haven't formally embraced the rebels, but have for some reason chosen to sit things out, lessening the tribal array against NATO's upstarts. What is it about the rebels that gives them such a magic touch with their darker-skinned neighbors in and around Libya - this African country they're taking over for the Gulf Arabs and the Euro-Americans?

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